Stephen A. Smith led This Week In Hot Takes.

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes! This time around, we’re looking at the hottest sports media takes from Oct. 20-26. 

5. Doug Smith says Yasiel Puig’s “shenanigans are going to get old”: You could build a whole library out of hot takes on Dodgers’ right fielder Yasiel Puig, and the latest one is from Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Smith wrote a blog post Wednesday titled “After Dodgers win in Game 1, how much having fun is too much having fun?” To his credit, Smith isn’t as all-in on Puig-bashing as we’ve seen from some others, but he still hits many of the same points:

It’s been hard to decide what I think of Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Is he good for the game with all the antics? Or is he too much of a showman and does that take away from his astounding skills?

I’m kind of leaning towards thinking he’s not too over the top, the tongue-wagging and bat-licking and coaching kissing takes too much away from his skills and doesn’t make him a bit more cartoonish than he should be.

But it’s close.

…Look, I’ve been known to be a bit of a hard-butt when it comes to things like this, I am big on respecting the game and the opponent and not going all “Hey, look at me!” all the time.

I think Puig straddles the line dangerously close but he’s just so damn compelling as a player, you put up with more of the other antics than you normally would. At least I do.

The question, though, is how does it end? At some point, the shenanigans are going to get old, at some point his teammates and coaches are likely to bristle at the way he conducts himself and we have no idea how he’ll handle that.

I guess that’s my issue with Puig and why I can’t go all in loving for the way he comports himself. It’s all well and good to be happy and have fun but not everyone’s like that and I think, eventually, the act wears thin.

That day is coming.

What’s weird about this is that the piece also includes “I honestly don’t have a problem at all with athletes in any sport being individualistic and being willing to show their personality and the fun they obviously have plying their craft. We want players to like what they’re doing because it enhances our appreciation for the sport and the escape that it provides.” How does that make any sense in a post that’s otherwise criticizing Puig for showing his personality and having fun plying his craft?

And it also seems odd to suggest “that day is coming” where Puig’s “shenanigans” will get old, and where his teammates and coaches will bristle at him; that presumably already happened with Puig’s demotion to the minors last year, and by most accounts, Puig has grown and changed since then to a point where his teammates and coaches are now thoroughly onside. (It helps that he’s also improved dramatically on the field and has been one of the most valuable Dodgers’ players in this postseason.) In any case, we can add Smith to the long list of those criticizing Puig’s “antics” and debating if he’s “good for the game” without good reason.

Rating: ??

4. Dan Shaughnessy attributes Dodgers’ loss to…Adrian Gonzalez? Speaking of hot takes on the Dodgers, let’s bring in Shaughnessy from The Boston Globe, who managed to blame a player not even on the roster for L.A.’s Game 2 loss. According to Shaughnessy, the issue is that Adrian Gonzalez showed up in person (after not being at the ballpark for Game 1):

Oh, and this wasn’t Shaughnessy’s first take on the matter. He’s long been a critic of Gonzalez, especially during Gonzalez’s stint with the Red Sox, and this came after he wrote a whole column bashing Gonzalez Tuesday:

Gonzalez went on the disabled list with a back injury Sept. 28 and has not played an inning since. He still has a year left on a contract that pays him $21.5 million.It’s probably a good thing for the Dodgers. Gonzalez, after all, is The Cooler. He rides shotgun with bad karma.

…In Boston, Gonzalez was the sour clubhouse contrarian who complained about Sunday night games, said it was “God’s will’’ when the Sox perpetrated the greatest choke in September history, then explained the 2011 chicken-and-beer fiasco by saying, “A man’s got to eat.’’
…Gonzo’s mere presence seems to guarantee late-season failure. He is Eddie Mush from “A Bronx Tale.’’ He is Bernie Lootz (played by William H. Macy) in “The Cooler.” For those who may not know, the 2003 film “The Cooler” featured a sad sack character hired by a Las Vegas casino boss to stand near lucky gamblers with the expectation that the sad sack’s negative vibe would cool a hot hand.

Anyone with more than two brain cells might think that there’s a little more to a baseball team’s wins and losses than one particular player’s supposed karma, but that’s not Shaughnessy. Why have a logical take when you can use an obscure William H. Macy film to start throwing out nicknames for a player you hate?

Rating: ?? ?

3. Phil Mushnick says fans “who know good from bad” are “bailing out” of sportsNew York Post curmudgeon Mushnick has long railed against everything he sees as immoral, from touchdown dances “miming copulation” (read: twerking) to Jay-Z lyrics, and he hit a new level on some of those fronts this week in a Thursday column titled “Sensible fans are bailing over sports’ depraved indifference.” Some lowlights:

TV and sports have combined to vastly under-represent, if not ignore, a significant viewer and customer base: Those who know good from bad and are sick and tired — very sick and very tired — of being treated as taken-for-granted fools. And if I read the wind and emails correctly, those viewers and customers are bailing out, perhaps never to return, because the games and telecasts fall further and further beneath their dignity.

During FOX’s Seattle-Giants telecast Sunday, a commercial depicting a corporate endeavor on behalf of Boys and Girls Clubs appeared, with Odell Beckham Jr. mixing with the kids — as if Beckham, likely the most all-about-me player and urination mime in Giants history, is a good influence on kids.

Justin Timberlake has accepted the NFL’s invite to perform during this season’s Super Bowl halftime. Anyone with a sense of right from wrong and any regard for their dignity — not to mention ours — would have disqualified Timberlake’s reappearance following his sudden, violent pull on Janet Jackson’s studded leather outfit to reveal one of her breasts to 144 million U.S. viewers at halftime of the 2004 Super Bowl.

And Commissioner Goodell, with no better idea, wants him back. Or is that the idea? Is Timberlake back to serve the sizzle, hold the audience in anticipation?

While this is the NFL season for taking a knee, the last Super Bowl featured Beyonce and her dance troupe in an ambush salute to the Black Panthers, which assassinated many police officers — black, white and Latino — as a matter of indiscriminate mandate.

Where was the protest, the outrage? Did Goodell know this was coming? Did he approve? Did he later explain or apologize? But it barely made news. Hey, everyone loves Beyonce!

Anyway, as frequently advertised, there’s a new show coming on NBC-owned USA Network, “The Cromarties.”

It’s described as a “real-life situation-comedy” about former Jet Antonio Cromartie and his family. He’s the father of 14 children by nine women. Hilarious!

And unless I’m reading the wind and emails incorrectly as the race backwards continues, for many it has already concluded at the finished line.

This is a perfect Mushnick column, with the presumption of a universal “good from bad” moral standard that he alone dictates, misinformed cultural criticism, bashing of athletes who celebrate, and the suggestion that his views are somehow widely held. All it needs is a complaint about how sporting events go on after his bedtime. But hey, if all these people are “bailing out of sports,” maybe grumpy old man Mushnick will join them and we won’t have to keep reading his ridiculous takes.

Rating: ?? ??

2. Skip Bayless says “no rookie in sports history has had a higher degree of difficulty than Lonzo Ball”: Speaking of misinformed takes, Fox’s  Bayless showed a pretty good ignorance of history with a tweet Wednesday:

Bayless promptly got rightly ridiculed by many for forgetting about, say, Jackie Robinson:

Robinson’s only one of many who faced a lot more opposition than Lonzo Ball. But sure, Skip, carry on with that take.

Rating: ?? ??

1. Stephen A. Smith tells athletes using marijuana “go do something else”: There are few things that get ESPN’s Smith more riled up than marijuana, and he delivered a remarkable rant on the subject on his radio show Wednesday. In the wake of former NBA commissioner David Stern saying that league should alter its marijuana policies to reflect state laws, Smith went off on an unhinged diatribe about weed:

Smith starts this somewhat reasonably by saying he’s not talking about medical marijuana (but he really is, at least when it comes to athletes, as we’ll see later), bringing up his mother’s death from cancer, and saying he would have been fine with her using medical marijuana if she had wanted to. A couple of minutes in, though, he really starts to rant. “I’m talking about it from a recreational perspective, I want to emphasize that there is no way in hell this should be legalized for professional athletes. Period.”

Smith then goes on to say that he’s seen “instances where players were right in front of my face, wobbling and rocking back and forth, without a damn clue as to where they even were!” Then, he argues that fans are paying to see players “lucid and cogent and ready to perform,” and “if you need weed to calm you down and desensitize your nerves, you ain’t for professional sports! Period! Period! I don’t give a damn what anybody says!”

That sure sounds like a take against medical marijuana, despite Smith’s earlier claim he wasn’t talking about that. And he goes on from there, saying that some professional athletes have performed better after using marijuana but “it can’t be trusted.” He then says players can’t use weed because they have to talk to media before and after games and communicate with coaches and teammates during games. After that, he talks about hanging out with Snoop Dogg while Snoop smoked weed, and being unable to partake because he works for ESPN. (So yes, apparently all of Stephen A.’s insane rants are made without any mind-altering substances.) And he then says permitting marijuana means it’s going to impact games:

“If you advocate individuals being able to use marijuana, some of them are going to come to games high! Some of them are going to come to games without all their faculties in order! Some of them are going to come to the games ill-equipped to perform!”

This then ends with an incredible rant:

“If you can’t suck it up and avoid the WEEEEEEEEEDDD, get the hell out! Go do something else! Get a nine to five! But if you want millions of dollars and it calls for you to make the quote unquote sacrifice of not smoking weed, the hell with you! Go to hell! Play somewhere else!”

This is an odd rant from Smith, as it somehow takes the premise that if leagues didn’t ban marijuana, players would be high during games. That seems unlikely; sports are all about performance, and impaired performance would likely lead to players getting cut. (Consider alcohol; leagues don’t ban it or test for it, but players aren’t constantly drunk during games.) It also seems to disregard the medical reasons for athletes wanting to use marijuana instead of opioid-based painkillers, and implies that all athletes who want to use marijuana are doing so just to get high. But it’s right on brand for Stephen A.

Rating: ?? ???

Notable absences: Colin Cowherd, Shannon Sharpe.

Hot Take Standings: 

Stephen A. Smith – 133
Skip Bayless – 116
Phil Mushnick – 94
Colin Cowherd – 43
Shannon Sharpe – 30
Rob Parker – 23
Charles Barkley – 19
Doug Gottlieb – 18
JT The Brick – 17
Albert Breer – 16
Don Cherry – 15
Ray Lewis – 14
Rick Morrissey – 13
Kristine Leahy – 10
Chris Broussard – 10
C.J. Nitkowski – 9
Bill Plaschke – 9
Tony Massarotti – 8
Jason McIntyre – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Danny Kanell – 7
Dan Dakich – 7
Keith Olbermann – 6
Michael DeCourcy – 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Nancy Armour – 5
Richard Justice – 5
John Middlekauff – 5
Garth Crooks – 5
Bill Plaschke – 5
Ameer Hasan Loggins – 5
Jesse Watters – 5
Jeremy Roenick – 5
John McGrath – 5
Ross Tucker  – 5
Mike Sielski – 5
Gordon Monson – 5
Scott Fowler – 5
Bob Brookover – 5
Berry Tramel – 5
Mike Bianchi – 5
Terry Frei – 5
David Jones – 5
Sabrina Parr – 5
Abbey Mastracco – 5
Terry Cushman – 5
Rob Rossi – 5
Rick Bozich – 5
Michael O’Doherty – 5
Simon Briggs – 5
Dan Wetzel – 5
Mike Parry – 5
Bob Ryan – 5
Robert Reed – 5
Pete Dougherty – 5
Dan Le Batard – 5
Marcus Hayes – 5
Kyle Turley – 5
Mike Ditka – 5
Erril Laborde – 5
Lowell Cohn – 5
Rosie DiManno – 5
Frank Isola – 5
Byron Tau – 4
Maggie Gray  – 4
Michael Powell – 4
Mark Spector – 4
Chad Forbes – 4
Gary Myers – 4
Mark Schlereth – 4
Andy Gray – 4
David Fleming – 4
The Sporting News – 4
Jeff Pearlman – 4
Tony Grossi – 4
FanSided – 4
Cris Carter – 4
Kirk Herbstreit – 4
Tony Kornheiser – 4
Mike Felger – 4
USA Today op-eds – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Dan Shaughnessy – 3
Steve Greenberg – 3
Matt Burke – 3
Michael Rapaport – 3
Malcolm Gladwell – 3
Mike Milbury – 3
Mac Engel – 3
Nick Kypreos – 3
Jason Smith – 3
Caron Butler – 3
Don Brennan – 3
Robert Tychkowski – 3
Mike Johnston – 3
Mike Francesa – 3
Jeff Mans – 3
Joe Browne – 3
Mike Harrington – 3
Greg Mitchell – 3
Doug Smith  – 2
Newsweek – 2
Teddy Cutler – 2
Will Cain – 2
Bill Cowher – 2
Paul Finebaum – 2
Charley Casserly – 2
Amin Elhassan – 2
Jim Henneman – 2
Mitch Lawrence – 2
Nick Wright – 2
Domonique Foxworth – 2
Gary Parrish – 2
Michael Farber – 2
Andy Furman – 2
Donovan McNabb – 2
Seth Davis – 2
Jon Heyman – 2
Jason La Canfora – 2
Dan Wolken – 2
Booger McFarland – 2
Joe Schad – 2
Cork Gaines – 2

Thanks for reading! Tune in next week for more This Week In Hot Takes. As always, you can send submissions to me via e-mail or on Twitter.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.